Seven Ways New Media Will Transform Your Business in '08

September 6, 2007
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Food Engineering can help. As part of a customer-focused media company, we are committed to delivering information in ways that will make your job easier and more efficient. You can embrace new technology tools by strategically managing how and when you receive information. Here are seven ways new media can transform the way you manage your business:

1. Go Online for Training and Certification

Online training has come of age and keeps getting better. Early attempts at Webcasts and Webinars were clunky, strained affairs. Fuzzy images and lost connections were the norm. Today, high-speed connections, in-house projection, enhanced software, improved two-way communication and experienced providers make Web-based training an engaging experience. 

Got a question? Most Webinars allow you to submit questions and answer them during a Q&A period. Want a video clip or additional information about the Webinar? Providers often include video links, which can be entertaining, and related Web sites so you can dig deeper.  Need proof of participation to qualify for CEUs? You might need to take a short quiz, but many Webinars provide a link allowing you to print a course completion certificate. Visit www.foodengineeringmag.com to view upcoming as well as archived Webinars.

Takeaway: Challenge your staff to use Webcasts instead of costly travel, and you’ll improve training.

2. Use Online Community to Obtain Real-Time, Real-Life Answers

Perhaps you’ve avoided places like You Tube, bulletin boards and blogs. Aren’t those for newbies, techies or people without lives? In some cases, that’s true. But for a growing number of people, online community is now an essential source of business success.

A huge benefit of online community is free access to people like you who have already tackled your challenges. Whether you’re fixing a broken part, launching an initiative or revolutionizing your company, someone is waiting to tell you how he or she succeeded at that task or, equally valuable, which pitfalls to avoid. Many sites also offer videos that show you how to do it.

Another aspect of community is the ability to build your reputation. Community participants don’t want a sales pitch, but they respect you for providing useful information and solving problems. Respect translates into trust, and trust translates into opportunities for your company.

Takeaway: Find trustworthy bulletin boards, blogs and communal spaces that focus on your industry. You’ll benefit by engaging with sharp-minded, impassioned participants.

3. Find Information with Lightning Speed

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a geeky way of saying “fast answers.” If you’re even a bit Web savvy, you’ve Googled something. But Google can be overwhelming when you pull up 101,234 results.

A better option is vertical search-using the search functions of industry-specific Web sites. Niched sites are more targeted and eliminate fluff. Some, like www.foodengineeringmag.com and the other sites owned by its parent company BNP Media, license Google technology for speed but limit the search to a highly defined universe of data, making your search vastly more efficient.

Takeaway: Visit the top Web sites in your field, and bookmark those providing the best search results. You’ll save a ton of time.

4. Locate Products Quickly with Online Directories

Finding products poses a problem when you need specific items to complete a project.  Online directories are a great solution. Most allow you to enter a company name, product category or a brand and then provide a defined list. 

While you may love print directories, online versions make good sense because they can be updated daily and include links to supplier Web sites, spec sheets and even product videos. Food Engineering’s Web site currently contains an online directory for sourcing Replacements Parts as well as Food Master.com, an online database containing more than 4,000 product categories listing equipment, suppliers and services to the food and beverage market.

Takeaway:  Keep your print directories handy, and visit their online versions for updated and comprehensive information.

5. Read Breaking News

Whether you’re a leader in your company or headed up the ladder, staying informed has never been easier. 

Some Web sites are updated daily, while others languish for weeks. Limit your visits to sites that are updated frequently and offer professional coverage.

Electronic newsletters offer a big advantage because they come to you. E-newsletters have proliferated, so focus on those that provide truly useful industry information.

RSS feeds are a way to assure you are alerted whenever certain news breaks on the Web.  RSS requires you to sign up for a reader and select the topics you want. Those articles are collected until you access them.

Takeaway: Avoid news overload. Focus on Web sites, e-news and RSS feeds that best meet your needs, and unsubscribe to the rest. 

6. Study In-depth

Content for Personal Development and Strategic Planning

While the Web is fantastic for immediacy, it is equally strong in providing content that will help you obtain comprehensive knowledge, perspective and leadership skills.

Archived articles stored on industry Web sites allow concentrated study of a topic or in-depth analysis of an expert’s opinions. 

White papers allow you to read thoughtful analysis on new products and procedures, often complete with statistics and projections.

Syndicated research can help you maintain a high level of expertise on a topic or industry, and provides insight for strategic planning.

Takeaway:  Search Web sites for meaty data and expertise. If required, register to gain access to highly valuable information that others may miss.

7. Conduct Business Online

E-commerce is more than a buzzword. Many companies now require online purchase orders, applications, designs, specifications, bids, change-orders, credit checks and payments. A recent survey conducted among subscribers to BNP Media publications showed that while most had company Web sites, only 30% allowed customers to place orders online.   

Takeaway: Embrace this trend by becoming e-commerce savvy. Promote your company as Web-friendly, making sure your Web site is customer-driven, and you will be rewarded.

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